The term "biodegradable" has been used over the past few years, to describe plastics or packaging that could potentially be metabolized by microorganisms in nature, with complete breakdown to CO2/Methane, water and biomass. However, there is significant confusion and controversy surrounding biodegradable plastics since many suppliers have used the term to loosely describe their material/packaging without specifying the conditions under which the material would degrade in nature. For instance, some plastics (like PLA) will only degrade under industrial composting conditions, while some others (like PHA) can break down under a wider range of conditions and environments (industrial, backyard, marine). Given this widespread confusion and the misuse of the "biodegradable" term, many global government and industry organizations have issued guidelines to restrict or eliminate the unqualified use of biodegradable as a descriptor of plastics or packaging. These include the European Commission guidelines (European Plastics Strategy) and the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides in the US.
In line with such guidelines, Ubuntoo's recommends that companies providing biodegradable materials, products or packaging:
1.Avoid unqualified use of the term "biodegradable" to describe their products
2.Any claim of biodegradability should be accompanied by a description of specific conditions and environments under which the material or product will undergo degradation in nature
3.It is strongly recommended that companies provide globally accepted certifications or testing for various biodegradability claims (such as the BPA certification for industrial composting)
Further in line with the position articulated by the European Commission as well as major CPG companies, Ubuntoo recommends that "biodegradable" plastics should not be considered a solution for littering (or worse a license to litter). Appropriate collection and end-of-life solutions (such as industrial composting or home composting) need to be put into place to avoid biodegradable plastics ending up as litter in the environment.
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Chemical specialist Clariant has introduced the CESA®-IR Black additive masterbatch to make black packaging more detectable during automated sorting in recycling systems.
Commercially used black packaging polymers obtain the black color from a pigment named carbon black. Carbon black absorbs the Near-Infrared Radiations (NIR) used by automated sorting systems in recycling plants. As a result, recyclable black packaging goes undetected and is either redirected into landfills or downcycled to less noble applications with loss of interest into the value chain.
With their specifically formulated CESA®-IR Black additive, Clariant has managed to improve the IR detectability of both HDPE and LDPE black packaging.
The CESA®-IR Black additive masterbatch offers a number of functional benefits like:
Attuned to detection by current sorting technology.
High color strength and dispersion quality.
Enables to further a circular economy.
Apart from detecting injection moulded and blow moulded HDPE and LDPE, CESA-IR Black can also be used to improve the detection of black PP, PET and C-PET films.
CESA®-IR Black was tested by Tomra Systems to produce the following results:
Commercially used black PP was undetected by NIR radiation from background sources.
The same material using CESA®-IR Black was readily detectable, as much as uncolored PP.